Tesla Announcement April 2015 is Woefully Incomplete

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Blog | 3 comments

In Tesla announcement April 2015, Elon Musk just unveiled his plan for the future of energy.

According to Elon, the future of energy will continue to put BTU’s and KWH’s in the same bag and seek to transition the world to renewable energy via solar P.V. and wind.

Fourteen minutes into his presentation Elon describes how many of his batteries will be needed to accomplish this fossil fuel free future. Since I am fairly certain that this analysis meets the space conditioning and water heating demands with a 1-1 electrical aspect I am guessing his estimate is off by at least 50%. In other words, if site-sourced thermal energy management was included in the analysis then much fewer KWH would need to be generated and stored to meet the BTU demands.

I share Elon’s desire for a fossil fuel free future and I agree that distributed electrical storage and site generation will be a part of that architecture. However, any grand scale vision that completely ignores the difference between thermal energy and other end uses is, I think, woefully incomplete.

3 Comments

  1. Definitely agree with you.

    EIA statistics show that there is two and a half times more thermal energy consumption in the world economy than electrical final consumption.

    It’s not at all a stretch to assume tha this means we need 2.5x more thermal batteries (or heat batteries as we tend to call them at Sunamp) than electric batteries.

    In fact the ratio is even higher as for electricity the grid offers balancing opportunities (net metering at the household level on up to international inter-connectors) that reduce storage needs. But for heat those grids aren’t there (most places) or are largely unidirectional (central facility out to homes and businesses – Scandinavian-style District Heating).

    So probably, if we are to fully de-carbonise, we need multiples of thermal energy storage compared to electricity storage. Also, the thermal energy storage needs to be distributed at homes and commercial buildings, whereas Elon can play it both ways – at the grid edge and embedded at large scale in the system.

    So the importance and value of what our companies, and others, are trying to achieve – distributed, high capacity thermal storage, managed as an energy resource, cannot be overestimated. It would be good to know each other better. Perhaps you would like that. If so please reach out to us in twitter @SunampLtd or via [email protected]

    All the best

    Andrew Bissell
    CEO
    Sunamp Ltd

  2. Thanks for the comment and for reaching out to us Andrew. I look forward to further discussions. You may also want to check out the group on LinkedIn called “Multi-source heat pumps”. Some of the posts here are duplicated in that group but there is more discussion. Also I welcome you to post info and links introducing your company to that group. Best, James

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